How did WA get Cat Laws?

August 26, 2020

"... how did we end up having cat laws on the agenda?

Our local member for Federal Parliament happens to be Colin Barnett. And Colin had been elected as Premier for about six weeks and we asked, would you come down and open our Open Day... and we managed to position him under the Cat Haven sign and one of the reporters asked him what do you think about cat sterilisation - should it be compulsory? And Colin says "well, yes. We should have mandatory desexing of cats."

Well, for us, that was the green light... We've got Colin Barnett coming down to Cat Haven and saying he believes in these laws. So he's painted himself into a corner.

So we started a letter writing campaign applauding his stance and asking when we're going to get it... We then start a letter writing campaign to all MPs persuading them to come down to Cat Haven... and it was quite heartening the uptake of them coming down. And I would have most of my discussions with them, in the euthanasia room... and I think they went away quite shocked. Especially telling them that a conservative figure, of 300,000 cats had been killed in that room. 
~ Roz Robinson Cat Haven WA, G2Z Conference Dec 21, 2012

And how did it turn out?

Before the Cat Laws came into effect

The State Government today announced $3.2 million dollars worth of funding for the implementation of the new cat laws…. (it will help) animal welfare organisations like Cat Haven put the law into practice

  • How to create a multi-million dollar industry overnight (May 29, 2012)

    The introduction of legislation could result in an initial increase in the number of cats that are seized, surrendered or dumped and require short term homing and euthanasing. There will be costs associated with these activities.

  • WA Cat Laws; the truth starts to seep through the spin (September 7, 2012)

    Local Government Minister, Mr John Castrilli, recently announced a $3 million grant program to support the Cat Act introduced in November 2011.
    Cat Haven has adopted the suggestion, inviting local councils to set up pounds on its Shenton Park site.

    “We are planning to construct purpose-built pound facilities which will place animal welfare at the centre of their operations”
  • Cats who matter & those who don’t. The ‘WA cat laws’ fallout begins (January 1, 2013)

    "For many years I have been trapping cats and giving them to (WA cat welfare organisation – name removed). I have been paying for the surgeries and have done so for many cats and they have been returned to the place where they were living. (WA cat welfare organisation) have now told me they will not sterilise cats unless they are going to rehome them, citing the West Australian Cat Act 2011 as a reason for this."
  • The beginning of the end for tens of thousands of cats (April 30, 2013)

    New cat laws = the need for bigger cat pounds.
    RSPCA needs new Perth cattery - The RSPCA is seeking donations to create a new cattery in Perth, with its existing facility jam-packed with seized and surrendered felines. ~ The West Australian

  • How cat laws are being rolled out in WA (September 5, 2013)

    The WA Ranger Association are preparing their members, by issuing the following circular to councils.

    Killing methods for a trapped cat deemed by the officer to be ‘feral’ may include;
    – captive bolt
    – lethal injection ie overdose of a recognised anaesthetic or analgesic agent (eg Lethabarb)
    – CO2
    – And can be done by firearm;
    The only other humane form of euthanasia in the field… is the use of firearms by killing the cat with a single shot to the head. All people present should be moved away from the trap. The operator should wait until the cat is motionless, and the range for a firearm should be 5-20cm from the head before a shot is fired.
  • Cat pounds being built (October 18, 2013)

    Last week Mandurah was parading their new cat pound, boasting that up to 15,000 cats of their region could be in the firing line;
    “A cat management facility is being prepared on Park Road, adjacent to the dog pound.”

    This week the city of Rockingham is showcasing their ‘kitty jail’;
    “Cat owners take note, kitty jail is ready for business when the State Government’s new Cat Act comes into effect on November 1.

    The City of Rockingham has remodelled part of its existing dog pound to accommodate cats, which will be impounded if they are found wandering and if their owners cannot be identified.” 
  • The opportunity cost of WA’s Cat Act (October 23, 2013)

    The City of South Perth has received $250,000 from the State Government to upgrade their current dog pound to also be able to impound cats, in preparation for the new Cat Act. The City has allocated an additional $250,000 towards the facility, making the total for the pound upgrade half a million dollars.

    The pound will service South Perth and the Town of Victoria Park. Their human populations are about 45,000 residents. So the investment in this upgrade is in the vicinity of $10 per resident.

Cat Laws in effect (from November 1, 2013)

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  • Encouraging the impoundment of cats (December 5, 2013)

    Christopher Ludlum and Deeanne Carr are concerned about the safety of their “surrogate children,” after their neighbour hired cat traps from the City of Mandurah. “He said he will kill any cats he catches.”
  • The RSPCA cannot take any more cats from people who no longer want them (January 2014)
  • Who got a million dollars to impound cats? (February 26, 2014)

    The two biggest champions of WA’s new cat laws, were without a doubt the RSPCA WA and the Cat Haven. I’ve requested from the WA government, the full list of grant recipients and the amounts given. And you’ll never guess who the two biggest benefactors were? Go on. Have a guess…
  • WA Cat Laws driving pets into pounds (May 2, 2014)

    The picture above is the impounds (unclaimed/unidentified) for a single WA pound. It doesn’t take a genius to see that before these cats were impounded and brought into the pound under the directive of these new laws – and their lives were being threatened with ‘euthanasia’ because ‘overpopulation’ – that they were living with someone caring for their welfare. That is, they had an owner.
  • The introduction of new cat laws has seen Bunbury rescue groups inundated with unwanted pets in recent months. (June 2014)

    “The number of unwanted cats has doubled from the previous year and tripled for unwanted kittens,” (The South West Animal Rescue group president) Tanya Adams said.
  • WA Cat Act – results year #1 (August 30, 2014)

    – The highest cat intakes in five years.
    – Five times more cats entering the shelter population via council facilities than the year prior (and many WA councils aren’t processing cats yet, so this number likely to rise).
    – Still only relatively small numbers of intakes – less than 10k pa – meaning zero influence on the overall cat population (taking around 1% of the overall population will not reduce that population)
    – Only a nominal reduction in the number of cats entering the Cat Haven (464), despite many cities now taking their cat management in-house.

  • Did cat laws defeat kitten season in WA? (October 5, 2014)

    Remember back when WA rescue groups were lobbying for cat laws and they said the laws would mean we no longer had a cat problem because all the cats would be desexed and so, no kittens? Cat laws were the answer, remember?

    So we got the laws. We’ve had them now for 11 months. Last year’s ‘kitten season’ blew out by several months, with shelters reporting
    doubled and tripled numbers of cats in care. So intense was the deluge, that ‘global warming’ was blamed. Overzealous rangers now with powers to heavy cat owners, began trapping pets, with rescue groups struggling to cope to accommodate the unclaimed. Cat haters have felt empowered to seize cats belonging to their neighbours, while councils have enacted trapping programs, targeting those animals unlucky enough to find themselves without an owner. Nearly 4,000 cats have been thrown into the brand new pound system created just for them. But all this pain was going to be worth it, remember? Because kittens.

    So how surprised are we all to see that it is now ‘Kitten Season’ in WA and that it looks astonishingly just the same as every other kitten season we’ve seen in the past…
  • Shooting cats in WA (November 1, 2014)

    Cat ‘welfare’ groups in WA have just spent the last five years declaring that cats are an unspeakable, unmanaged pest decimating wildlife, in an effort to get their cat laws passed. It was inevitable that the constant cat-bashing from those who claim to be an authority, would lead to empowered cat haters targeting pets. And now that’s the reality for cats in the state
  • Cat Haven; help please everyone stop enforcing the cat laws now – we’re swamped (December 29, 2014)

    The major problem with telling everyone that they should bring all free-roaming cat into a shelter for ‘processing’ is that they might just do exactly that. And the result is not terribly difficult to imagine.

    Perth’s Cat Haven is in crisis after being overcrowded with unwanted and stray felines.
    The charity has more than 320 cats on site and another 550 in foster care that will soon return to the shelter.
    Spokeswoman Chandra Woodley said Cat Haven was running out of options.
    “We are asking people to postpone surrendering their cat as we just don’t have room.”

RSPCA WA Great Big New Cat Pound
  • Cat agencies in crisis thanks to WA's Cat Act (December 4, 2016)

    Half of all stray cats caught by WA councils end up dead. But that's not the worst of it. From WA' this morning's Sunday Times; 'It is not getting any better': 50 cats a week put down in WA. 

    Cat Haven - “Last year we struggled so badly with the sheer numbers of cats coming in and the cost of keeping them we have now got to the point where we are going to limit the amount of cats we take. We are not saying no, we are just going to try to delay people or find other alternatives.”
  • Pet dumped like garbage by council (June 26, 2017)

    Despite WA boasting the most draconian cat laws in the country, designed and passed explicitly - we were told - to protect pets, a dead cat is still treated like garbage, disposed of at the local tip.

  • Celebrating four years of the WA Cat Act (November 18, 2017)

    Having nailed every element, the laws should have done what the advocates for the laws said they would do; reduce impoundment (and the subsequent killing) of cats.
  • Record cat influx puts strain on haven - The West Australian (17 Feb 2018)

    "We plateaued at about 6,500 cats each year, then last year (2017) we jumped to over 8,500 and this year is starting off exactly the same; we've taken in over 1,000 this January. So the numbers have just exploded.
    We're over capacity, we've got cats in crates and in offices. I just don't know how long we can keep on sustaining this... it's really stretching our finances along with our staff and volunteers" ~
    Roz Robinson, CEO Cat Haven
  • Ranger, vet confirm; cat 'temperament testing' can't tell a feral cat from a pet one (May 23, 2018)

    City chief executive Ray Tame said an experienced ranger and a registered veterinarian reviewed the cat and were convinced it was feral based on its appearance and behaviour. This decision is in line with the Western Australia Cat Act 2011, which allows cats to be euthanised immediately if an animal management facility operator believes that it is feral.

  • WA Cat Act doing exactly what it said on the box (impounding more cats) (January 30, 2019)

    In 2009 the Cat Haven in WA impounded 7697 cats. At the end of 2013 (despite having one of the lowest impound rates in Australia) WA passed the most draconian cat laws in the country, requiring all cats be desexed, microchipped and to wear a collar by law. Millions were spent on new cat impounding facilities and resources. In 2018 the Cat Haven impounded 8919 cats.
  • WA to consider expanding "record cat impoundments" with even more impoundments (May 13, 2019)

    WA has experienced five years of record cat impoundments. Year on year increases in cats being brought into pounds. And without so much as a completed review of cat intakes and outcomes at council pounds since the WA Cat Act passed, the Department of Local Government has thrown out the idea of expanding the existing cat legislation in WA
  • WA Cat Act Year 5 - well what did you THINK would happen if you gave councils more powers to impound cats? (July 18, 2020)

    The one arguable benefit to cat welfare, may have been an increase in cat registrations and - by extension - an increase in cats reclaimed from the pound and a reduction in killing. So how has Cockburn done in implementing the laws they were already given?

    "Cockburn rangers and community safety manager Michael Emery said according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics stats, on cat ownership, only 17 per cent within the City were registered..."

    17%... in five years. Or to put it another way - 83% non-compliance. But that's no reason not to lobby for more laws!

    Below is total intakes at the Cat Haven over time. Note that despite these laws being in place for five years* the intakes have surged to levels higher than 2008.
  • And now, the final insult to the welfare of cats - a new humane cat management desexing trial is available everywhere except WA (August 202

    Because thanks to these cat laws, TNR and every variation of it, is now 'illegal' in WA. So while our cat laws haven't worked to protect cats, we can't actually implement the programs that would.

    "This trial will see a new community-based cat management program implemented across selected low-socioeconomic suburbs located in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland." -
    PetRescue's Community Cat Trial Information page
“How shelters treat feral cats is indicative of their commitment to lifesaving. When an animal shelter isn’t fighting to protect these cats from harm,it reflects a fundamental mission failure.”
Yes Biscuit

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